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Zhurong rover returns first pictures

Science desk || shiningbd

Published: 17:57, 20 May 2021   Update: 17:58, 20 May 2021
Zhurong rover returns first pictures

The front view shows the flat landscape of Utopia Planitia

China has released the first pictures taken by its Zhurong rover on Mars.

The forward view shows the landscape ahead of the robot as it sits on its landing platform; the rear-looking image reveals Zhurong's solar panels.

The rover touched down on the Red Planet early on Sunday, Beijing time.

In doing so, it made China only the second nation - after America - to successfully put a probe on the surface of Mars and operate it for a significant length of time.

Chinese scientists hope get at least 90 Martian days of service out of the six-wheeled robot at its location on Utopia Planitia, a vast terrain in the planet's northern hemisphere.

China's National Space Administration (CNSA) posted the pictures on its website. There are even a couple of short videos that record the moment the rover's aeroshell - the capsule it used to enter the Martian atmosphere - departs the Tianwen-1 orbiter, the satellite that carried the rover from Earth.

The surface imagery tells us that critical hardware deployments after landing were completed cleanly.

These deployments included the unfurling of the solar arrays to provide power to the robot; the release of the antenna to communicate with Tianwen-1, and onwards with controllers back in China; and the extension of the ramp down which Zhurong will soon roll to begin its mobile mission.

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